Effective September 17, employers with four or more employees in New York state must include a compensation range in all advertisements for new jobs, promotions and transfer opportunities. A pay transparency fact sheet and FAQ document are available on the NYSDOL website with additional information and guidance on the new law.
Our colleagues in Latin America prepared a succinct briefing of the most impactful recent employment law changes in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. From changes to teleworking rules to greater obligations related to family leave, outsourcing and more, there’s a lot to keep up with.
Click here to access our heat map…
The National Labor Relations Board has continued its recent spate of employee-friendly decisions with a new one that will require employers to think through work rules, policies and handbook provisions to determine whether they could–hypothetically, from an employee’s perspective–restrict an employee’s Section 7 rights.
On August 2, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “the Board”) issued a 3-1 split decision in Stericycle, Inc., bringing back and modifying a prior standard for assessing whether an employer’s facially neutral work rules and policies unlawfully “chill” an employee’s Section 7 rights. Under the new standard, the NLRB will peer through the lens of a “reasonable employee” (more on that below) to determine whether an employer’s work rules and policies have a tendency to restrict Section 7 rights. For employers, this means a complete reassessment of their workplace rules and policies–and the handbooks that those rules and policies are housed in.
The new standard: reasonable tendency to “chill” Section 7 rights, from the employee’s perspective
The new standard (which is the Board’s prior Lutheran Heritage standard, brought back to life and modified) requires the NLRB General Counsel to prove that a challenged work rule has a reasonable tendency to “chill” employees from exercising their Section 7 rights. (Quick reminder: Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” of the Act, including the right to form, join or assist labor unions, to bargain collectively and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining.)
How is this done? That’s the rub for employers.
As an initial matter, the Board will interpret the challenged work rule from the perspective of an employee who is (i) subject to the rule, (ii) economically dependent on the employer, and (iii) also contemplates engaging in a protected concerted activity.
- The employer’s intent in maintaining the rule in question is immaterial. (So even if the employer had no intent to restrict an employee’s Section 7 rights when developing the work rule or policy–which we suspect will usually be the case–it isn’t material.)
- The General Counsel will carry her burden if an employee (that same employee described above) could reasonably interpret the rule to have a coercive meaning–even if a contrary, non-coercive interpretation of the rule is also reasonable. All emphasis is ours here, to highlight that the General Counsel’s burden is extraordinarily low. If the General Counsel carries her burden, the challenged work rule is presumptively unlawful.
- BUT, employers have a chance at rebutting the presumption. The presumption can be rebutted if the employer can prove that the rule advances a legitimate and substantial business interest and that the employer cannot advance that interest with a more narrowly tailored rule. If the employer proves this, the work rule will be found lawful.
What does this mean for employers?
The Stericycle standard has the potential to render a multitude of employment policies and workplace rules unlawful, and will be applied retroactively. Employers should review existing (or new) employee work rules, policies, and handbook provisions to ensure:
- They are tailored as narrowly as possible to advance the employer’s interest, and to refrain from restricting an employee’s Section 7 rights
- They explicitly state employees have the right to engage in concerted activities under Section 7
- Where necessary, they provide an explanation of how the rule or policy does not preclude employees from exercising their Section 7 rights
- Where possible, they include a list of specific rights the employer is not intending to restrict. Talk to us for recommended language.
New York may soon restrict employers and employment agencies from using fully-automated decision making tools to screen job candidates or make other employment decisions that impact the compensation, benefits, work schedule, performance evaluations, or other terms of employment of employees or independent contractors. Draft Senate Bill 7623, introduced August 4, aims to limit the use of such tools and requires human oversight of certain final decisions regarding hiring, promotion, termination, disciplinary, or compensation decisions. Senate Bill 7623 also significantly regulates the use of certain workplace monitoring technologies, going beyond the notice requirements for workplace monitoring operative in New York since May 2022 and introducing data minimization and proportionality requirements that are becoming increasingly common in US state privacy laws.
While there is not yet a federal law focused on AI (the Biden administration and federal agencies have issued guidance documents on AI use and are actively studying the issue), a number of cities and states have introduced bills or resolutions relating to AI in the workplace. These state and local efforts are all at different stages of the legislative process, with some paving the path for others. For example, New York City’s Local Law 144 took effect on July 5, prohibiting employers and employment agencies from using certain automated employment decision tools unless the tools have undergone a bias audit within one year of the use of the tools, information about the bias audit is publicly available, and certain notices have been provided to employees or job candidates (read more here).
If enacted, Senate Bill 7623 would take things much further. Here are some of the most significant implications of the draft legislation:Continue Reading Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: New York and Other States Have Big Plans For Employer Use of AI and Other Workplace Monitoring Tools
New guidance from USCIS provides a new alternative, starting August 1, 2023, allowing employers that participate in E-Verify to inspect documents presented for I-9 completion remotely. This update will free qualifying employers from the burden of performing a physical verification.
To qualify, employers must be in good standing with E-Verify. This significant change in USCIS policy provide a pragmatic solution for qualifying employers, particularly those with large remote-working populations. The new guidance is also timely – as it is effective the day after USCIS’ COVID-19 flexible guidance is set to expire.Continue Reading Update: USCIS Modernizes I-9 Verification Process Allowing for Virtual Verification
Today, California Attorney General Bonta announced an “investigative sweep” through inquiry letters sent to California employers. In the letters, information on California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) compliance is requested specifically with respect to the personal information of employees and job applicants.
The Attorney General noted “we are sending inquiry letters to learn how employers are…
Since July 1, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency has the power to bring administrative enforcement actions under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (see our post on California Privacy Law Action Items for Employers).
While a June 30, 2023 ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court stays enforcement of the March 29, 2023…
While the US Supreme Court’s June 27 decision striking down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina does not directly apply to private employers, the decision will reverberate and impact corporate ID&E programs as a practical matter.
The Decision Ends Systematic Consideration of Race in the Admissions Process
Striking down the affirmative action programs at Harvard and UNC, the Court ruled that both programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In so doing, the Court effectively overturned the 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, in which it said race could be considered as a factor in the admissions process because universities had a compelling interest in maintaining diverse campuses.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called the programs “rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in the entering classes.” Both policies “fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our nation’s equality ideal,” he added.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Court’s first Black female justice, said: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”Continue Reading ID&E in the Workplace After the Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action in Higher Education
In our latest video chat, our team on the ground in Mexico discusses the practical implications for employers of the new teleworking standard introduced on June 8, 2023 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. NOM-037 establishes new health and safety-related requirements…
Effective June 27, a new federal law strengthens the rights of pregnant workers (and those who are postpartum or have a related medical condition) to reasonable accommodations at work. As discussed here, the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act fills the gap between Title VII (the federal law that outlaws sex discrimination) and the ADA (the federal statute that protects disabled applicants and employees), ensuring that pregnant workers are able to continue in their jobs with reasonable accommodations for physical or mental conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, so long as the accommodations do not “impose undue hardship on the operation of the business.”
The PWFA does not displace federal, state or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. For instance, since the 1980s, California employees who are pregnant, give birth, or have pregnancy-related medical conditions are guaranteed time off from work while disabled, without having to show that the time off would not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business.Continue Reading New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Expands Accommodations Options for Millions of Americans